“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of non-pharmaceutical narcotics. It is addictive, gives momentarily pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”- John W. Gardner
As someone who suffers from a mental illness—I can tell you right now how easy it is to fall into the slippery slope of self-pity. It becomes almost second nature to compare your own brain function to how you perceive everyone else’s to be. You begin to make excuses for yourself, followed by self-loathing due to the realization that “other people have it worse,” or “at least you don’t have to face ____ issue.”
At least you don’t have to face the issue of the Syrian Crisis.
At least you don’t have cancer.
At least you don’t have financial complications.
At least you don’t have a poor relationship with your family.
At least you don’t have to face the darkness of unemployment.
In episode 42 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Dr Reid Wilson. Reid is a licensed psychologist who run the Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center in Chapel Hill and Durham, NC. He designed american airlines first national program for the fearful flyer. He is a founding clinical fellow of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Reid is the author of many books including ‘Don’t panic’ and most recently ‘stopping the noise in your head’.
I chatted with Reid about why belief changes behaviour, the content of worry and why it’s trash, the importance of trusting the therapeutic approach and why we should act as if. We discussed why we should empower the therapeutic voice within us, how to learn acceptance, leaning in to tough thoughts and feelings, and even looking for uncertainty. Reid gave some great advice on living a good life. Enjoy.
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Others may not be quick to understand but have hope.
I’ve probably suffered from OCD since I was around 8 years old. My earliest memories of feeling self-conscious and hyper-aware of things that just didn’t matter to other children stem from that time. When I was 13, I asked my parents if I could speak to someone, maybe see a therapist, because I felt different and disconnected from my peers. But they didn’t see a problem until I was 16, when I was misdiagnosed with depression. At 17, I began obsessing over my school papers, and that was the first sign anyone picked up on. I was always a straight-A student, but I began having difficulty turning in assignments on time. I pulled all-nighters perfecting essays, reading and re-reading the same paragraph, the same sentence, until it sounded and looked “right.” My English teacher warned me that my perfectionism might become a real problem in college. He was right.
Freshman year of college: I had gotten into my “dream school,” a small liberal arts college over 500 miles away from home, where I knew I wanted to study art history. Well, as an Art History major, you spend most of your time memorizing names and dates and writing papers. I was spending twice as much time as other students on each assignment, constantly making up excuses and asking for extensions from my professors, and staying up all night to reach some level of perfection that existed only in my head and that I couldn’t define. My professors were impressed with the quality of my writing and I had no trouble taking exams, so they granted me an extra few days to submit papers—that is, until I became incapable of finishing a paper; until I couldn’t get past the introduction for re-writing the thesis over and over, obsessing over how a single comma changed the meaning of an entire sentence, over how synonyms are a myth since each word has a unique meaning and there is always one perfect word for what you are trying to convey.
I am a medical doctor and have had issues with anxiety probably for the past 20 years. My anxiety went through the roof about 2 and a half years ago and I began experiencing panic attacks. I didn’t know I had OCD at that time. Eventually I saw a psychiatrist and began the process of diagnosing what is going on with me. I wanted to get help but I didn’t know how to describe what I was feeling inside. I was feeling ashamed of the thoughts that I had in my head. I had lots of harm and violence related images. I was feeling ashamed because I am a doctor and I had tons of intrusive violent images, I was getting scared with thoughts like: “What if I do that? What if I harm someone?”. I was beginning to feel disgusted with myself for having such thoughts and images in my head. And I didn’t know how to tell my psychiatrist. I thought that I probably just belonged in jail. Because I was feeling miserable and I wanted to get help I gathered all of my strength and talked to my wife and one of my friends, who encouraged me to talk to my psychiatrist. That is what lead to my diagnosis of OCD. I was started on a medication- clomipramine. And it helped with me become able to accept what is going on in my head. I began my own research on the internet and came across the book “The mindfulness workbook for OCD” and also the “OCD workbook”. I really liked the mindfulness workbook and read it few times to learn the concepts and start applying them. I also read through the OCD workbook mainly on the topics of ACT and ERP. I noticed a significant improvement with doing my own ERP. My OCD gradually quietened down and began to be just part of me but not controlling me.
So to everyone out there fighting, welcome to the team.We’re all in this together.
I’ve always loved writing.There’s something great about getting your thoughts down on paper (or on screen as the case may be).
Unfortunately, my OCD has infused writing with a great deal of anxiety.This is because of my fear of plagiarism.When I write, my mind can become flushed with a major, blown-out-of-proportion, completely irrational fear that I am stealing someone else’s words and ideas.I could literally be typing down something that happened to me this morning, and part of me would doubt that it was my idea.Anytime I think of something super clever, a big part of me doubts that it was really original and often I am afraid to share it as my own.
This fits in with one of my main OCD worry themes: dishonesty.I hate the idea of stealing, cheating, or otherwise misrepresenting what is mine.This fear easily flows into the writing process.If I find an article that sparks an idea, I wonder if my idea is too close to what I had read.
Anxiety & OCD are difficult to understand, for some people. Reality is we all deal with it! One way or another we get anxious at some point in time. I have struggled with OCD & Anxiety for the past 5 years. It was a really big discomfort in my life, but I have such great parents to give me support and love.
There are many ways to overcome OCD and anxiety, my way was being around and feeling loved by the people I want to surround myself with only, and also by Praying. I prayed a lot and also had many people praying for me too. God helped me in many different ways to overcome OCD & Anxiety. But Of course patience is KEY! Now only Good Energy, good vibes! Now I do not get anxious anymore and my OCD is gone!
What I would like for you to know is, if you are struggling with Anxiety or OCD. There is Help! Keep yourself busy and maintain good thoughts. I hope this short post will help some of you, and remember always, have HOPE.-Haydee-
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein
In episode 11 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Jeff Bell & Shala Nicely. Jeff and Shala have a personal and professional journey with OCD, and have come together to create Beyond The Doubt.
Shala and Jeff were a pleasure to talk with. They shared their remarkable stories with OCD, we talked about how to do ERP if you find it too difficult at present, we chat about the importance of meaning and purpose. We dig deep into the power of a success focused mindset and why it’s good to see everything as a miracle. I think you’ll get a lot out of this. Enjoy!!!
I felt like I lost a huge boulder that had been sitting heavy on my shoulders and in my heart for years.
WHAT IF I’M A PAEODPHILE, WHAT IF I’M A PAEDOPHILE, WHAT IF I’M A PAEDOPHILE,what if i’m a paedophile,whatifi’mapaedophile – fast and furious the thoughts came, every way I looked this one question that threatened my whole identity loomed large in my mind. Coupled with flashing images of naked children, things I may have potentially done to children all made me sick with the horror.
The trouble is with OCD, it’s not just one obsession that torments you. I would plead with my mind to give me something else to worry about but inevitably a new obsession would come and it would be just as awful as the last. I built up strategies to try and tear the anxiety down. The misleading thing is it would work for a while and so I would become convinced that I had finally outrun it. What I didn’t realise was that every trick, strategy and counter attack was actually just reinforcing the OCD. Every thought I suppressed, every occasion I avoided was all just fueling the OCD fire. Continue Reading
People do not choose mental health problems! They battle them!!!
Nobody could understand it. They were all flabbergasted. Some bemused, some angry, some just shocked. “Why on earth would he have a broken leg?” Someone exclaimed. “Especially when he had a really well paid job.” “Why should he have diabetes?” Said another. “When he had such a pretty wife!” “There’s just no need for him to have cancer.” When he has so many good friends! “Self, self, self, such a loving family and he goes and gets MS.” “It’s just attention seeking!” “It’s preposterous!” “Such a handsome fella, girls around him like bees around a honey pot.” “And he decides to get meningitis.” “Why on earth would he choose that?” “When he had everything to live for!!!”
I can acknowledge that I am not my thoughts.I am not my obsessions.I am not my compulsions.I am NOT my OCD.
I’m *so* OCD.
No, really, I am.Not like that Target sweater.Not like Monica from Friends.I mean, have you seen my room?It’s a war zone.I hardly have the mental fortitude to organize items by type, let alone by color and alphabetical order.Not like Billy or Suzie who claim they’re *so OCD* about X, Y, or Z when what they really mean—and lack the eloquence to articulate–is they’re human.Because as humans, well, we have quirks.
OCD has been my beast of burden, my shameful monster, since childhood.Back then, I had absolutely no language to pinpoint what these weird obsessions or compulsions were that dictated the real estate of my brain.Swallowing a certain number of times.Knocking on my head as a substitute for wood when I felt superstitious about something; that act would in and of itself become a new compulsion.Checking my heartbeat to make sure I hadn’t been scared to death (after reading a ghost story aptly called, “Scared to Death.”)Playing the same piano chord after every piece I practiced.Just to feel right.Looking behind me at my, um, rear end, to make sure I hadn’t sat on any mud lest classmates think I’d pooped my pants.LAUGH all you want!Ha.I do in retrospect, too!But these were real, very real, compulsions and obsessions that I couldn’t break away from.And, twenty + years later, I still get locked in my brain.